Buffalo Schools Recognize Potential of Solar Energy Careers
In the largely economically depressed city of Buffalo, high school students need every opportunity they can get for a bright future. To that end, 40 hours in a classroom will now earn students at McKinley High School a certification in solar installation from private education company Green Career Institute.
The program will roll out with a mere 40 students undergoing the training. While it won’t come close to guaranteeing students a job in the solar industry after high school, it will certainly help. Solar technology changes so rapidly that additional training will likely be required by the time the students graduate and pursue careers in the industry. Regardless, it’s a start to pique interest and show students the career possibilities available in the alternative energy field.
Developer Daniel Montante (whose company is building Riverview Solar Technology Park, the first solar-ready business park in the country) says the area lacks a green workforce and the training will benefit the region and the students.
Students with vocational training have a higher rate of graduation than the average; this is significant in the region to the west of New York City, where less than half (47 percent) of students graduate high school.
Solar Installation Training: A Growing Trend?
The McKinley High School program isn’t the first of its kind, but it is rare. In 2010, more than 20 Massachusetts-based technical high school electrical instructors took part in a three-class solar PV workshop to learn how to design and install PV systems, with the intention of passing the training and knowledge on to Massachusetts vocational high school students.
The session culminated in the installation of a full solar PV system on a mock roof at Tri-Country Regional Vocational and Technical High School in Franklin, Massachusetts.
As Solar Demand Grows, Will Training Keep Pace?
As the demand for solar PV installations in residential homes and commercial buildings grows, skilled workers are needed to keep pace. The introduction of vocational programs like those mentioned above will welcome students to an exciting field with lots of career growth potential, while paving the way for future generations of solar PV installers to meet the growing demand — which in turn helps boost local economies.